To decide to learn an entirely new medium in which to express a narrative you’re yet to completely understand is quite a task – and putting a time limit on that doesn’t make it much easier. There is only one thing I find harder than pushing through once I begin to realise I might not make it through this learning process within my intended time frame, and that’s giving up on the original idea. Sometimes you’re faced with a choice; you can either give up on your original idea, and create something – perhaps wonderful – from the scraps you’ve mustered thus far, or you can cling to the idea and let that drag you down. I hate making this choice. I hate making this choice because it’s never that simple.
Well, this is what I did when I was faced with that choice. Firstly, I decided to avoid working on the project, by finding other ‘productive’ things to do (check out my electric guitar build blog when that’s finished). Secondly, I spent days polishing what I already had, obsessively over-working myself to fix that which was unfixable or unbroken. Thirdly, I got ill, really horribly ill, I managed to time some kind of viral infection with a series of panic attacks and stress induced stomach pains. This took a good two weeks to get over. By this point I was already nostalgically attached to my perfect unfinished experiments, and I couldn’t possibly bring myself to work on them in any way, and definitely couldn’t upcycle them into anything new. Fourthly: I realised my deadline was too close to manage to create anything new from what I had already made, then I gave up on trying to give up.
Now here I am, two weeks from my deadline, with no idea of what I should do, or where I should take my project. And I have no real reason to care about how this project turns out, quite frankly I don’t have any reason to do well now, say for my own satisfaction, and perhaps my education. Going into this project I had one key goal, I wanted to create something that would be a complete, standalone piece of work, which people could observe and say, “Ben’s done something over the last two years, and this shows that.” I don’t think I’m going to manage that. Nevertheless, I have learned a lot in the last couple of months, and I know if I was to start over with a fresh idea and use this medium to express that idea I’d be much more capable of achieving that in the given time – which is an amazing thing to be able to say at this point.
One of the things I have learned is to be conscious when choosing a medium in which to work on a story you hold close to your heart, a story you’ve had floating around in your head for months and have been trying to work out how to bring to life – be that an original story or an adaptation. While not having the skills needed to use a medium to express a story shouldn’t put you off using that medium, it might be a good idea to try creating a few projects within this medium before giving the narrative to this form – as you’re unlikely to get it back, especially if you have a deadline looming for the piece. In my current project, I have spent a large amount of time learning my new medium, and despite the excitement of discovering new techniques often igniting my inspiration, I have spent a lot of time exhausting the drive I had for the project while learning. This might not always happen, in fact I’m sure doesn’t, but it’s been a losing battle for me. By the time I felt confident in expressing my idea in my chosen medium, my drive for the idea was diminishing; it’s like working with blunt tools, then spending all your energy sharpening them before you can get to doing the project, by which time you’re tired and sweaty and fed up, and working while feeling like that can kill a project – as least, your inspiration for the project.
Moving on? So far this project has been a fascinating process from me, and a process I’d like the share. I have some pieces of work I’m incredibly happy with, and I’ve learned a lot – as I keep saying. But I want to get up and start something new. I want to step back from my current project and create something exciting and fresh. But how do I do that while making progress on my Final Major Project (FMP)? I’ve decided to spend these last two weeks creating a reflective short film about this process of learning and working in a new medium. I may be using bits and pieces from the piece I’ve been working on, but I will not be working on the project directly. Hopefully this will be the fresh start I’ve been looking for. And I’ll keep this blog up to date with the work I’m doing on the new project.
Thanks for reading it.